One of the top things that makes exceptional leaders stand out from mediocre leaders is that exceptional leaders are always focused on how they can grow, both as a person and as a leader.
Exceptional leaders know that the more that they grow, the more their team will benefit and flourish. This type of continuous growth inevitably brings optimal performance to the workplace.
As a manager, by focusing on improving your leadership communication skills, you’ll bring exponential growth to your team members, and be the person responsible for the great benefit that this will bring to your organization.
Here’s a 5 step process that you can go through to help ensure that you’re getting the most out of the effort you’re pouring into your growth as a leader.
1. Become familiar with your strengths and weaknesses.
It simply doesn’t make sense to If you work on skills without being sure that you’re working on the right skill – the one that will actually make the most impact and lead to the change you’re looking for. This is why you need to start by developing an in-depth understanding of your strengths and weaknesses in relation to your leadership communication skills.
One way to do so is to simply ask for feedback from your team.
Yes, I hear you… This can be uncomfortable. It’s true.
It’s so much easier to just convince ourselves that we already know what we’re good at and where we need to improve.
But the reality is that others’ perceptions of our strengths and weaknesses don’t always fully match how we view ourselves. If you want to grow as a leader, you need to become open to listening to feedback from your team members.
Leadership personality assessments (which I, of course, happen to offer) are another great way to get a full portrait of your leadership strengths and weaknesses. These types of assessments provide you with detailed information of where you shine and where you may struggle more, which enables you to pick goals to work on that will have the most impact for both you and your team.
However you choose to do it, learning more about your strengths and weaknesses in terms of how you communicate as a leader will give you great insight that will enable you to leverage your strengths while also mitigating your weaknesses.
2. Work on just one skill at a time
It’s not rare that once passionate, motivated people discover a new path to the sense of accomplishment they’ve been seeking that they set out to implement it ALL. Yesterday.
The reality though is that this is a quick path to failure.
If you’re truly committed to improving your leadership communication skills, then to begin with, you need to choose one skill to work on as your top priority. The key here is in choosing a skill that’s foundational to many situations so that the impact of improving that one skill will be pervasive across many different situations in your professional life.
3. Identify the behavioural steps that will lead you to success.
Once you’ve identified the foundational skill to focus on, it’s extremely important to ensure that you’ve determined how to break that goal down into measurable and attainable steps.
For example, your goal might be to listen better. Which is a great goal. But it’s not a goal that is precise enough that you can just start working towards attaining it. You may as well be saying something like “I want to do more things”.
See what I’m getting at here?
You’d need to start by defining what behaviours are needed to be a good listener. And figuring out which of those behaviours are ones that you’re less skilled at and will have big impact if you change. For one person, this might be interrupting less often. For another, it may be learning how to use open-ended questions. For yet another, it may be working to tolerate uncomfortable feelings that arise during difficult conversations.
By defining the specific measurable behaviours you’ll be working on, it’s much more likely that you’ll be able to reach the goal you’d like to achieve.
4. Develop habits to support the desired behavioural change.
It’s great to decide to change a behaviour. But then comes the hard work of actually changing it. To do so successfully, you’ll need to incorporate reminders into your daily routine. This will serve to keep you on track with your goals.
You may try something such as putting sticky notes in your office, or on your bathroom mirror at home that remind you of the behaviours you’re working on, so that they stay fresh in your mind. This could be something as simple as a phrase such as “pause before answering” or “empathize first”.
Or you could set a notification on your phone to remind you of the behaviour you’re working on, right before you enter into a difficult interaction or a meeting with your team.
Alternatively, you can ask your team members for help in keeping you accountable to the behavioural change you’re striving for. For instance, you could tell them that you’re working to ensure that everyone on the team has a chance to contribute to the team discussion and then let them know that you’d like to set aside 5-10 minutes at the end of each meeting for them to give you feedback on how you did.
Finally, you could set an alarm on your phone, at the same time every day, that reminds you to take 5 minutes to reflect on how well you did in regard to the behavioural change you’re striving for and what you’d like to try differently tomorrow.
5. Be kind to yourself
Changing the way that you interact with people at work requires behavioural change. It won’t happen overnight.
You may find that some days you’re doing really well at integrating the changes you desire into your professional life. And then, there will be other days where you may find yourself thinking that nothing will ever change.
This is where those who are able to offer themselves some compassion end up winning in the long run.
Knowing that ups and downs in behavioural change are normal may help. Rather than comparing your progress on a day-to-day basis, look for trends over time so that you can see the overall trajectory of your improvement. This will keep you focused on your goals and lead you to great success.
If you find yourself needing support to identify which leadership communication skills will lead to the biggest impact on your ability to lead your team to greatness, or would like support in ensuring you implement new communication skills into your role as a manager, you can book a free 30-minute discovery call. I’d love to learn more about the kinds of kinds of challenges you’re facing, and help you uncover what you can be doing to become the leader that everyone follows.
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